While the west coast continues to battle ferocious wildfires, a Portland-area man was stunningly released from custody hours after his arrest for starting a brushfire with a molotov cocktail. Shortly after his release, however, the suspect went on to start six more fires.
45-year-old Domingo Lopez Jr. was arrested after using the makeshift incendiary device “to start a small brush fire,” the Portland Police Bureau said in a statement on Monday.
“On Sunday, September 13, 2020 at 4:35 p.m., East Precinct officers were dispatched to assist Portland Fire and Rescue with a brush fire in the 9600 block of East Burnside Street,” the statement reads. “Officers saw that a section of grass along the I-205 freeway was burning. Firefighters extinguished the fire. No one was injured and no structures were damaged.”
“About an hour later, East officers were flagged down by a witness who pointed out the suspect in a nearby tent,” the statement goes on. “Officers arrested the suspect, who confirmed he lit the fire with the device.”
Lopez was booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center on Sunday night on charges of “Reckless Burning and Disorderly Conduct in the Second Degree,” the statement adds. “Arson investigators are also doing follow-up to see if other charges are warranted.”
The alleged device used in the first fire was recovered by investigators.
— Portland Police (@PortlandPolice) September 14, 2020
According to the New York Post, Lopez was inexplicably released later Sunday night—a decision the Portland Police Bureau would come to regret.
The bureau later reported that the same suspect was arrested just hours after his release for allegedly setting half a dozen more fires.
“On Monday, September 14, 2020, at 3:37a.m., East Precinct officers were dispatched with Portland Fire and Rescue to a report of multiple fires burning along the west side of the I-205 freeway,” the bureau said in a follow-up statement. “Portland Fire and Rescue extinguished three of them while passing community members put out the other three. All were caught early. No one was injured and no structures were burnt. Officers located Domingo Lopez, Junior walking along the shoulder and arrested him. They seized a lighter as evidence.”
Lopez was charged with six additional counts of reckless burning and was finally transported to a hospital for a mental health evaluation, the results of which have not yet been made public.
The reckless crime and weak law enforcement come as Oregon sustains brutal wildfire damage alongside its west coast neighbors. To date, 10 Oregonians have lost their lives to the blazes.
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